If you’ve ever tried your hand at fashion photography, you’ve probably discovered that it’s not quite as easy and intuitive as you might have thought. Anyone can dress up and have their picture taken, but fashion photography is about something more — capturing the drama and movement, the mood and impression, of a wearable art form in a static image. That’s not easy, especially when beautiful clothes are made to interact with the wearer as they move about their daily lives. To produce an image that is true to the spirit of the clothes and therefore makes them interesting and desirable to the viewer, you’re going to need to think creatively and pull out all your best tricks. Here are a few simple tips that have served me well:
1. Eye Contact
The model doesn’t need to be sustaining eye contact with the viewer, but they do need to be making eye contact with something. Think about the emotional reaction you want to elicit. A model looking straight into the camera is arresting because it creates an engagement between them and the viewer. Powerful eye contact almost breaks the “fourth wall” and connects the viewer directly with the image, drawing them in.
You can also have your model look off screen, focused on something in the distance. Make sure, however, that they are actually focusing on something, no matter what it is. Viewers can tell the difference between a meaningful look and unfocused, bored eyes. Looking out of the shot creates a sense of mystery and intrigue, forcing the viewer to wonder what they see.
You can also have two models look at each other. This creates a story inside the image, and the viewer feels they are witnessing an interaction in process and must read the emotions passing between the models. It can even be somewhat voyeuristic, but it’s certainly engaging.
2. Play with the Angle
The classic fashion shot puts the photographer on a lower level, looking up at the model. This elongates the model’s body, slimming and lengthening her. It’s a great go-to shot, and a good one to have in your back pocket. Still, rules are made to be broken. The shot works well, but that means we’re also used to seeing it. Don’t be afraid to switch it up and experiment a little. Shoot from a side angle, or get up above your model on a ladder. Try having them on the edge of the shot, almost out of the frame. It’s always worth it to try, you may just hit on something great!
3. Get Moving
Remember what I said about clothes interacting with your daily movements? The best shots manage to capture that interaction in a static image. Try having your model move. They can walk, run, jump around, or just change positions and let you catch them in the act. There will be a lot of duds, but the shots that work will be much more engaging than those of a posed model. Even if you are doing a posed shot, have the model constantly shift slightly, turning their head or moving their arms and changing their expression. The viewer will get a sense of that movement, and since the model is less able to control their pose at all times, there will be a touch of candidness to the shot.